The Photography of Bill Wood

Note: It was recently brought to our attention, by a kind and attentive reader, that in our original post (way back in 2008) we referred to the photographer as Bill Woods. His actual name was Bill Wood.

Bill Wood was a commercial photographer in Fort Worth, Texas. He worked from 1937 to the early 1970s. Apparently, he was a no-nonsense photographer. He didn't intend to produce weird images, but his subject matter — middle-class America — meant that many of his images do have a surreal quality to them, like something out of a David Lynch movie.

The New York Times notes: "What is captivating and often funny is the gap between what he evidently meant to do and what he did. It appears that he meant to create reassuring images for his customers, pictures that affirmed their identities, values and world. Today, however, it looks more as if he captured feelings of absurdity, unease, alienation and grief."

His pictures include a bizarre car promotion, promising a year's supply of Kleenex with every purchase of a 1959 Pontiac. Would this have been a tempting deal, even back in 1959? How much Kleenex could a person possibly use?

...a man standing outside a store with an open sign. But what does it sell? There don't seem to be any products inside.

...and the fashionable members of the Lions Club basketball team.

The International Center of Photography, which recently hosted an exhibition of his work, has more of his images on their site. There's also a book of his photographs.

     First Posted: Sep 2008
     Reposted By: Alex - Sun Jun 23, 2019
     Category: Photography and Photographers

International Center of Photography
Promised Gift of Diane Keaton

Posted by Tah on 09/19/08 at 12:37 AM
The Chevy dealer in my home town (years ago) was selling Western hats for about $4,000 and was giving away a car with each purchase.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 09/19/08 at 01:30 AM
After I looked at a larger image, the reason for the boxers with the basketball shorts is clear -- the gentlemen are AGGIES!! I don't know just how to explain Texas Aggies to those of you from elsewhere, but suffice it to say -- this looks just about right.
Posted by larriann on 09/19/08 at 11:18 AM
I bet the car promotion was directed either to male tweenagers or to people with seasonal allergies. Closed car with air conditioning: allergies. Open-roof car: tweenagers.
Posted by Yudith on 06/23/19 at 08:58 AM
If you buy this car, it will make you cry a lot.
Posted by ges on 06/23/19 at 10:24 AM
That's the first silent Aggie joke I've ever "heard". Hahahaha.

Loved those '59-'61 convertibles. Like driving an aircraft carrier.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 06/23/19 at 10:30 AM
These photos are odd only because we’re viewing them out of context, and out of their time. Only a handful of them are truly quirky.
Posted by Brian on 06/24/19 at 08:50 PM
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